Status and trends in conservation

Status and trends of the UK’s natural environment underpin most of our work. They are at the heart of the advice we give, the evidence we produce, the reporting we carry out and the priorities we set for JNCC.


Traditionally, trends have identified changes in the distribution, extent, status or quality of species and habitats and rely heavily on results from surveillance and monitoring schemes and biological recording. Where possible the causes of trends are also explored to measure and address environmental pressures. Increasingly, there is also a demand for information on changes in ecosystem services – the benefits to human well-being provided by the natural environment.  There is also a desire to express trends in ecosystem services in economic terms.


The status of species is measured through monitoring and surveillance and is usually set out in terms of distribution or population size. In contrast, habitat status is expressed in terms of extent and quality. Ecosystem services are most usefully measured in economically or socially-relevant units.


Listing or designation processes that give status to species and habitats in recognition of threat and rarity also play a role. JNCC maintains a register of conservation status designations and is involved in aspects of this work.


The status and trends of species and habitats also provide building blocks that are used to support UK’s commitment to outcome-oriented reporting and assessment. They form the basis of UK and country biodiversity indicators, evidence reports,  in response to UK reporting obligations and advice.   



Species Status Assessments

The species status assessment is a means to identify conservation priorities that is recognised around the world. Assessments should be objective and based on scientific information. Information on species conservation status and distribution should provide a foundation for informed decision-making about preserving biodiversity at all levels.


Assessments take two forms, Red Data Books and Red Lists. Red Data Books provide a review of the status of particular species groups at global, regional or national levels. They incorporate Red Lists, which catalogue all threatened species in a particular area. Species are classified according to perceived risk: extinct, threatened, near threatened or least concern.


Red Data Books and Red Lists

JNCC has played a key role in the production of Red Data Books and, more recently, stand-alone Red Lists. In most cases we have worked with relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and specialist societies to prepare and publish lists.

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